The Potential Pitfalls of Social Media

This past Friday in English class, we wandered along a tangent derived from the book, The Dumbest Generation. According to my English teacher, this book by Mark Bauerlein talks about how my generation’s extensive use of technology is making us less aware, more self focused and eventually, dumber.

In class, we discussed whether or not WE thought that Bauerlein’s supposition was true. The discussion soon focused mainly on whether or not social media was making us more self-centered. One of my friends, who barely uses social media, said that he thought it did, because for us to post statuses, pictures and tweets, we assume that people care about what we have to say. I personally have a different, rather out there opinion, because I tweet and post mainly because I want to put my thoughts out there. When people first started to respond to my tweets, I was pleasantly surprised. Even now, I get really excited when someone favorites or retweets or likes what I post, because it makes me feel like people do care. I don’t think most people assume that everyone cares, at least not non celebrities.

Another classmate of mine brought up the point that social media is broadening our world views and making us more connected with more people. This is almost the opposite of focusing on yourself. Now, people are using social media to support causes and spread the word about things and ideas bigger than any one person. Additionally, people DO want to know what others are saying, and they follow, friend and interact with those other people for that reason.

What do you think? Is technology such as social media (twitter and Facebook) causing us to be more solipsistic? Or is it the reverse, and it’s giving us a more rounded world view?

Why I Take AP

Most people I know who want to do well in life and get into a good college, are people I’ve always seen push towards taking AP classes, which count as college credit. As someone who definitely wants to do well, I was without any further thought, planning on following the “take as many AP’s as possible” course of action. That is, until I got some second opinions. One of the main opinions that explained why AP’s aren’t necessarily the college guaranteed ticket I had heard of, was Cal Newport’s How to be a High School Superstar.

Newport talks about how most students burn themselves out trying to take lots of AP’s in order to look good for college. However, Newport argues that nowadays, given the prevalence of students with tons of AP’s, colleges no longer put as much weight on them. Also, some colleges have found that AP courses don’t end up teaching enough material and students are having to retake the courses. Therefore, burning yourself out on AP’s you have a high chance of failing or are not interested in, has less value.

Now, one might say that preaching this and taking an AP makes me a hypocrite. But unlike some of my peers, I’m taking AP Chemistry for the challenge and because I enjoy chemistry. I don’t necessarily think that taking AP Chem would even help me get into college because, as of now, I’m not pursuing anything really requiring a science.

In my newly enlightened mind, AP’s should act as higher level courses, never mind their college credit, and should be taken by those who wish to delve deeper into that subject.

Flipped?

Yesterday, I had a productive meeting with my principal, Mr. Peters. Over the summer, I discovered the excitement of TED:Ed and thought that it would be an interesting thing to incorporate into Westminster. My idea was that, if it were made into a class, students could learn about what makes these videos engaging and sticky.

Mr. Peters had another idea, with the broad concept being turning post and extra curricular elements into Creditable non courses. For example, having a short summer program and ongoing usage during the year for robotics or students replacing IT. This would act as a way to make the things we students do “academically” outside of school on a daily basis and enjoy, count as school credit.

From that concept, which is already in place to some extent, we went back to the original idea and embellished it. Now, the plan is for students to make instructional videos, like the ones featured on TED-Ed, to teach various concepts to their peers. I think is a good idea because not only does teaching the concept help the video makers learn, but having what will hopefully be a subject archive of videos will be a great studying resource. Eventually, if the idea catches on, we were thinking of turning it into a sort of “film festival” maybe around February (as a little pick me up for the spirit) and have different categories like “Funniest” and “Most original method of presentation” etc. As a finale to this video idea, we could possibly hold a TEDx Westminster. Who knows!

Hopefully, the first “phase” of this project will have started by the end of this year. And here’s to this 2012-2013 school year, go cats!